Dear Abby • My husband, daughter and I all have birthdays in the same month. My mother-in-law always sends gifts for me and my daughter, but never to my husband, her son. He tries to shrug it off, but I know it bothers him.
In earlier years, I thought it was an oversight. I have tried gentle reminders and hints, but again this year there was no gift for her son. It would be different if she sent one only to our daughter, but sending one to me and not to her son is a slap in the face. They have a fairly good relationship, and my husband is kind and generous to his parents.
I haven’t opened the gift she sent me this year, and I do not intend to. Should I return it to her with a note explaining why, or donate it and forget about it until it happens next year? — PERPLEXED IN THE NORTHWEST
Dear Perplexed • Your mother-in-law’s behavior strikes me as passive aggressive. That it makes you uncomfortable is understandable. Perhaps you and your husband should ask her directly why she does this and let her explain. Then, after you have heard her out, you can tell her that what she’s doing makes you uncomfortable, and you would prefer she not send you any more birthday gifts if she intends to ignore her son.
Dear Abby • I hate the fact that since I have started high school, I’m restricted by the rules that guys and girls can’t be friends unless they’re dating. It has been worse since I got into my relationship of 2 1/2 years. I’ll be 19 soon, and I have always had guy friends. I find them easier than girls.
My mother says that when you’re in a relationship, it is disrespectful to have friends who are guys. My boyfriend and I fight all the time over this issue, and I have had to cut off some of my guy friends because of it. I hate not having anyone to talk to or hang out with except my boyfriend. It has left me with bad blood between me and my old friends. Is this a rule that I didn’t know about? I just don’t get it, but I know I need help. — TEEN IN DELAWARE
Dear Teen • What your mother may have meant when she said it is disrespectful to have male friends when you are in a relationship is that many men find it threatening. You are young, and at your age it is appropriate that you should be socializing with more than one person. Your mistake was in getting into an exclusive relationship with someone who tells you who you can and cannot be friends with. Break it off, and you may be sad for a while, but you will also be free to grow.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.
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